Truth on Being a 2017 XXL Freshman: “It means a lot to me [to be a XXL Freshman]. Just remembering back and looking at everyone else who were Freshmen for XXL, when I was in high school and looking at that magazine issue and now I’m about to be on it, it’s different now. All these blessings coming in are crazy. You can either become worse or step up. I plan on making music better. I’m talking about my life and explaining to people how it goes. Hopefully it motivates people.

I remember doing an interview, it was one of my first interviews and it was outside. We were walking around downtown Manhattan and I was talking about my life and what’s going on, like, the development that happened. It’s crazy [to look back] from there to now. I always imagined [myself as a XXL Freshman]. I always imagined it in my head. Even if I wasn’t going to be someone, I painted that picture in my head because you got to talk it into existence. [When the cover drops] the first thing I’m going to do is send it right to my mom. I don’t know how I will celebrate.

The New York hip-hop scene right now, I feel like I’m a part of it. Me, Dave East, Don Q, Casanova, we killing it right now, we’re representing it right. Every song that I’m making right now, you’re going to hear more description about me in Highbridge and where I’m coming from. I’m from The Bronx, it wasn’t easy. No one really makes it out The Bronx. It’s exciting to me. It’s all fun to me, I have fun doing what I do. The year has been great; I just came from Canada for the first time. I was in Toronto and people were chanting my songs, it’s crazy right now. I feel like I got to give the people what they want. I got to drop my album. I’m just going off vibes and I feel like the people are listening now. Becoming a XXL Freshman is going to help our label stand after this, it’s going to help us build where we can sign other artists.

If I didn’t make it, I would’ve went like 10 times harder because I would have been like, ‘What the fuck?’ My first year, I came out strong, I came out on stage in Madison Square Garden for Drake, Beyoncé at Mets Stadium. My first project right now is still on the charts. Everything has been good. I feel like I deserve this. I want people to say that this was the best class because A Boogie was on it.”—Emmanuel Maduakolam

See Behind-the-Scenes Photos of A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie at 2017 XXL Freshman Shoot